Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cherishing Each Moment.

I've written before about the terribleness of the advice frequently given mothers to "enjoy every moment, it goes by SO fast!"

As I wrote for "Circle of Moms":
Please feel free to ignore the following parenting rule: 'Enjoy every moment! It goes so by quickly!' Because I can almost GUARANTEE you that there will be days with your children you do not enjoy. 
All-family stomach virus day? Not enjoyable. My kids coated the brand new couch we saved for over a year for in Sharpie day? I give you permission to go ahead and despise this day. My child learns to scream the word "NO" at top volume? Go ahead and take a week off from enjoying parenthood when this happens. 
If you take the pressure off yourself to delight in every single instant of your childrens' existences you'll be a better parent and a saner human. And there will be plenty of moments to enjoy, don't worry. Just not 'My kids have learned how to open the refrigerator and have now hidden broken eggs all over the house' day. That day's gonna be really, really bad. Be warned. 
And I still feel that this advice is downright sound. Truly, I can think of few things more absurd than telling a human being to enjoy every moment of being a parent. 

There are just so many absolutely terrible moments when one is raising children that trying to rejoice in the wonderfulness of each day as a Mom or Dad is pretty much to guarantee that you will be left with an enduring feeling of misery and deep sense of personal failure.


Now that I now have three children I will admit that I'm starting to appreciate how quickly it really does go. 

I'm so busy that the days tend to bleed together, which results in me occasionally going to pick up one of the kids and thinking, 

"Wait, how is it possible that you weigh this much? Aren't you, like, 9-months-old?"

And it turns out that, no, he's like, totally almost four and going to school a couple of days a week. Or he is 2-and-a-bit and running around like a maniac while talking up a storm.


And forget getting in any snuggle time with those two great big boys as they tear around. They shriek and twist away from my every attempt at cuddling. I've been reduced to devious methodology to get even the tiniest bit of sugar off of these two: I've invented a game called, "My Tiny Little Baby."

The game is simple. I cradle one of them at a time in my arms like an infant and sing,

Rock-a-bye baby on the tree top,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
When the bow breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby...

At which point I look down and act surprised and appalled to discover that instead of a tiny little baby I have an oversized toddler in my arms. Furious to have been tricked in such a way, I then throw them across the room screaming, "You're not a baby! Get out of here!" as they cackle.

The boys love it (as they love anything that involves a lot of silliness, shouting, and tossing) and I get to indulge in holding my big guys again for a few moments like the babies they used to be.

And I have to tell you - I cherish it.

My baby girl is still little enough to hold and cuddle as I see fit, but even that is changing fast. She's almost six-months-old, she's already close to sitting up, and she's started doing that thing where she sometimes punches me in the face when she gets bored with my hugs and kisses.

She's sleeping through the night quite reliably, but every once in a while she'll still wake up at 3am.

My husband gets up from bed bleary-eyed and goes to collect her from her crib before she wakes up the boys. He brings her to me to nurse and then goes to crash for the rest of the night on the sofa. 

We both grumble,

"Ugh, hopefully it's just tonight."

I think about how tired I'll be the next day as I try to keep up with the demands of three kids on four hours' sleep, and I accept the fact that it is really going to be rough going.

But as I lie in the dark with my legitimately tiny little baby, I do actually make an effort to enjoy the moment. 

Because I know it all goes by so fast.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Having returned from two weeks visiting family in Texas I now find myself deep in the transitional phase known as "The Deprogramming".

Whenever you spend time away from home you end up altering some basic daily routines. Bedtimes get shifted, nutrition gets compromised, and naps fail to manifest. When you spend time with Grandparents, in particular, your children become used to being lavished with attention, fed ice cream on demand, and entertained on a moment-by moment basis.

Upon returning from such an excursion there is an inevitable period of reintroducing your children to the realities of their long-forgotten home life.

Here are a few of the concepts that we are currently attempting to reassert:

  • I am not a short-order cook. This morning we are having eggs for breakfast. Yes, we are having eggs for breakfast no matter how many times you shut your eyes and shriek the words, "FRENCH TOAST!!!!!" at top volume.

  • Today will involve exactly one activity. In the morning we will venture forth towards the park, or maybe the playground, or perhaps even the airplane museum. Then there will be napping. In the afternoon I invite you to chase each other about the yard while I fold some laundry. Entertain thyselves!
  • Dessert is something that occurs in our house once a day, if you eat the actual nutritious foods prepared in advance of dessert. So leap if you want from your jet-lagged from your beds at 5:30am demanding candy. Express fervently your thoughts on the subject of ice cream as an exceptional lunch choice. Shout the word, "COOKIES!" for two-hours straight in lieu of napping. The bottom line is NO MORE DESSERT. It ain't happening.

  • See above but insert the word "McDonalds" wherever the word "Dessert" appears.
...and finally...
  • The level of attention you have come to expect in untenable for a mother of three (one of whom is a nursing infant). You cannot jump to me 1,000 times a row in the pool because I need my arms to keep your siblings above the surface of the water at all times. In addition, when at home it make take me a few moments or more to respond to your every request for "MILK!!!" "JUICE!!!" and "SNACKS!!!" Unless I deem your situation to constitute an emergency it may be a while.  (And for the record, needing your trains so you can throw them down the slide? NOT AN EMERGENCY). 
It's not easy shifting gears but we are doing it day-by-day. We should have it all worked out in a few short weeks...

...just in time to go visit the Grandparents in New York.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Traveling With Children - Part the Second

Last time we met I was confidently doling out wise and helpful advice on traveling with young children based on my vast experience with the subject.

In retrospect, I perhaps should have known that preaching on all things Mom travel would pretty much GUARANTEE that things would not go smoothly as we took off for parts Texan. 

But David and I had done so many flights with the kids that I guess we'd grown complacent. We'd just sort of forgotten that we were undertaking the near-impossible task of making our way halfway across the country with three children under four in tow, and that we needed to show the travel Gods some respect.

There are two options when timing one's trip to the airport:

  • Leave early and risk having to manage three kids at the gate, desperately trying to prevent them from running under the feet of passengers dashing for their flights, leaping from the long rows of black seats to the consternation of their fellow passengers, and/or escaping in order to dash behind the counter at Starbucks  to beg for pastries.
  • Leave too late and risk missing your flight.

We choose option number B. We had a 1:00p.m. flight to Texas and we left the house at 11:15am. Which would have been fine if everything had gone exactly perfectly.

Everything did not go exactly perfectly.

It took us a few tries to load all the bags in the car. Then we caught a few too many red lights. Next it took us an extra couple of minutes to find parking. Then the shuttle which is usually waiting at the parking lot had gotten held up and was ever-so-slightly delayed. As we finally approached the terminal, the crush of cars at the drop-off delayed us yet again.

Nothing went terribly wrong, but enough things went not-quite-right that we found ourselves at the line to check-in around 12:05.

The line wasn't crazy but it was just long enough to worry me. As we humped our luggage and our children through turn after turn of the rat maze it occurred to me for the first time that we were in real danger of missing our flight.

I waved over a gate agent in smiley desperation:

"Hi, we're traveling with THREE little kids and wow, I really can't afford to miss this flight..."

Her weary gaze suggested that perhaps I should have thought about that before arriving at LAX 40 minutes before our flight was scheduled to depart.

We made it to the front of the line at 12:30. Our bags were tagged with the neon-green "LATE BAG" tags of shame, and we started our mad dash towards security (or as mad a dash as you can make with a reluctant three-year-old and two stroller-bound children in tow). In the security line, David and I spent some quality time engaging in a brief yet bitter debate on the subject of whose fault this all was. (SPOILER ALERT: HIS!!!!)

I finally made my way through the metal detector with the boys at around 12:40 and hope started to return...

...until I looked around to find that David and the baby were one machine over, still trapped in line behind an elderly woman with a 5-pound-jar of face cream and her friend who shall henceforth be known as "the lady of one million bracelets".

He finally made it through at 12:45 and the five of us made a mad dash to our gate (or as mad a dash as one can make with the aforementioned conditions complicated by the fact that the wheel of one of the strollers had now broken off in the X-ray machine).

We boarded our plane 6 minutes before takeoff. As I plopped sweaty and panting into my seat and settled the baby into my lap, I turned toward my husband with a white-hot glare:

"We are NEVER doing this again! That was HORRIBLE! Do you understand how terrible it would have been?! To be stuck at the airport for God only knows how many hours..."

David interrupted my rant to put his hand on mine:

"Honey, I would have had all that AND I would have been stuck with you. Believe me, I understand."

We held hands as the plane lifted skyward and repeated our mantra together:

"Never again. Never again. Never again."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Short Fat Vacation

The Dictators and their hard working minions are in Texas this week eating BBQ, going to the old swimming hole and introducing our L.A. offspring to concepts such as weather systems and animals who live outside of the zoo. Good times.

We'll be back next week with all new unseemly poop stories, fear not!